Tuesday, March 26, 2019

. . God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed
according to his will. Hebrews 2:4b

The epistle to the Hebrews was written to a second-generation church who had never known Jesus of Nazareth personally but had come to faith through the words of those who had heard him preach and had witnessed his miracles. This church had faced persecution, and many were wavering in their faith and thinking about returning to Judaism as they remembered it to be a safer approach to God. The writer reminded them that in the old days God spoke to them through the prophets, but in these last days, he spoke through his son, Jesus. Because Jesus is God’s own Son, he is superior to Moses, Elijah or any other prophet. By believing in Jesus as their High Priest, they would be saved from their sins and could find peace with God and meaning for their lives.

As God’s own son, Jesus is greater than angels. He led his life without sin and is man’s perfect sacrifice. They could trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and no longer be guilty and would have eternal life as promised by Jesus.

Those who knew Jesus personally witnessed his divine power over nature as he calmed angry seas. They were with him and saw his miracles of healing and casting out of demons. The epistle writer assures them that Jesus followers also had the truth of their own words confirmed by ‘signs, wonders, and various miracles as well as by receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.’ Believers knew of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Through faith, they could believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit would strengthen them to endure further hardship and give them victory over their trials.

Today’s popular culture offers many interesting and entertaining diversions. It gets harder to assign priorities when these are values that are God-given and worthwhile activities in themselves. They can include children’s sporting events, social media, concerts and theater, book and stamp clubs, needle art groups, get-to-gathers with friends, and vacations away from home. Sometimes these can seem more important than worshiping God in song and prayer and receiving forgiveness and healing for our souls in Holy Communion. How do we find the time to receive guidance and peace for our lives by studying His Word at home or in a group or writing a devotional for the Lenten booklet or just setting time aside for the intention of being alone with God?

The epistle writer urges the Hebrews and the church today to consider how superior a life leading to Christian maturity would be and to not drift away. He said we cannot ignore such a great salvation. Being with Jesus in our daily lives needs to be our focus. Our world is becoming increasingly complex and changes rapidly. But we can be assured that God has a personal plan for each of our lives. Our only real security can be in Christ who is always fair and merciful and willing to forgive our sins and strengthen us in our trials. The good news to the Hebrews, that God-sent signs, miracles and wonders and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, are also still gladly offered to us by God as we grow in faith today.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to see signs of your loving presence today. Amen.

Nancy Whitney

Monday, March 25, 2019

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Reflecting on this passage is the definition of what it means to be a Christian.  God has provided the tools to us to know that he loves us, the power to ask for forgiveness and to be forgiven, to do right from wrong. God wants us to trust and follow him, accept His gift of salvation so that we may each spend eternity in paradise with Him. We are to not only claim we are Christian but do things Christians should do such as believe in him and follow him, tell others about him, obey his commandments, pray, give, forgive, provide, love God and each other.  The Bible is the information on how we should live and guides us to do the right things.  When we are down and out and stray away from what God wants us to do, we ask forgiveness and know we will be forgiven.  We ask this with the help of God.  We should not be ashamed to claim we are Christians, we should shout it out with joy and gladness and in doing so, live our lives in the way God leads us to.  God wants to be in us and be an active part of our lives, he wants us to adopt and care for us as his children, he wants us to know him and love him.

Prayer: Dear God, please continue to guide us, love us and lead us to walk with you always. Amen.

Kate Smith

Saturday, March 23, 2019

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit. John 15:16

This verse means a lot for each person that believes in God!

The word “choose” emphasizes that God is in charge of selecting, appointing and placing some people in a specific group while others in another. In other words, you did not initiate the plan of being a follower of Christ, neither to be a priest nor to define how your life is going to be. Most of the time, we boast about our selves, give credits to our own accomplishment, and we rarely remember that Jesus made us the way we are. Our faith is a gift from God, because of his Grace we are called his children (Romans 3:23-24); and it is God’s Love that granted us the life everlasting (Gal.2:20). We will bear fruit worthy of that divine life if we believe in Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the One who died for our sins on the cross. Remember: ”YOU ARE CHOSEN.”

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for choosing me to be your sibling and protect me from the evils that would like to destroy my affiliation with you. Amen.

Stephanie Rabenandrasana

Friday, March 22, 2019

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

I’m sure we have all heard or maybe we have even said it ourselves – “God will never give us more than we can handle.” So why does God allow us to experience trials and difficulties, grief and pain, more than we can bear? So that we will rely on God and not our own strength and power. God realizes that as humans we will be tested or tempted by one thing or another in this world. Fortunately for us, God cares so deeply about us that he has promised to help us through times of testing/temptation. Jesus understands any temptation that we may be facing and promises us that everything that we have faced or will face in the future, has been experienced before. In fact, Jesus understands what it is like to be tested and he can sympathize with us because he has faced the same temptations. God will always give us the strength to get through the testing/temptation. He will give us the power to resist and the power to escape it. Just remember, the next time you are tested, God will allow hardships in our lives, but they will always be filtered through the promise of his love. He will hold out his hand and tell us to lean on him. Through his love and grace, we will be able to endure any testing/temptation that may come our way.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for Jesus, who understands what it is like to be tested in life. Thank you that Jesus is able to sympathize with all of our weaknesses. Thank you that there is no temptation that we face that you will not give us the strength and love to bear. Amen.

Suzanne Grove

Thursday, March 21, 2019

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

The book of Psalms consists of 150 “poems,” and their subject matter varies widely. Some were set to music and song to be included in worship. Others appear to be actual prayers, while many others were expressions of faith and joy, or praise and gratitude. And then, of course, many seemed to reflect pleas for help and declarations of sorrow . . .

King David, (noted scholar, warrior, shepherd, and yes, even adulterer), is widely known to be responsible for penning many of these stirring compositions, and indeed, Psalm 63 comes from him when he was in the “wilderness of Judah,” no less.

In this “dry and weary land without water,” he proclaims that he is not only seeking God but that his very soul thirsts for Him. David further attests that he will continue to bless God for as long as he lives, and with his mouth, he will praise God with “joyful lips.” Moreover, he then adds, “My soul clings to thee, and thy right-hand upholds me . . .”

I can only conclude then, that given these historic circumstances involving David, his situation was perhaps dire, and at best, uncertain. And, sensing this reality, he is intuitive enough to continue to enlist his beloved Father to please watch over him during his wandering . . .

Truly then, this accounting has to be a prime example of how we today can attempt to follow David’s heartfelt and intense experience. We need to make God our Rock and Refuge. We need to recognize that He alone is the Almighty and that without his Grace, we will continue to struggle in vain. And then, with this recognition, allow it to be a daily, if not hourly one . . .

Prayer: Dear Saving Father, hear me please, that when I sink to my lowest and darkest depths, you somehow raise me up with your Golden Goodness. I certainly do need it . . .

Stephen Lynn Meyers

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

Isaiah was one of the four major Old Testament prophets. He lived in Israel B.C. and was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. Isaiah saw a vision in the year King Uzziah died and prophesized the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Historians credit at least some of the writings of the book of Isaiah to this prophet. Isaiah means “Jehovah saves” or “the Lord is salvation.” He was a witness to the work of Christ and Christ’s message to all.

In this verse Isaiah is explaining the all but impossible task we humans here on earth have, to measure the great distance between heaven and earth; subsequently, we cannot comprehend God’s plan for us which is higher, wider and greater than the plan we may have for ourselves. So, in faith, we commit to keeping God’s covenant – His plan for us to follow, our contract with Him, by faith and by our mission to reach out to others and share God’s word and God’s plan for us all. By doing so we will have kept our contract with God as He has asked us to do, and we will be saved.

Isaiah’s message was one for all ages. I hope I can do what God has requested. So often life gets in the way and it becomes difficult to stay on track. I start over each day with a prayer of thanks and a prayer for guidance and direction so I won’t stray from the fold and will be led to make every effort to help someone in some way before I sleep again. It is not easy. God knows that. But He is there at all times and I talk to Him daily and often more than once a day. Have you committed your life to God, to Jesus, and to the Master Plan? If not, consider today as a good time to start the process.

Prayer: Dear Lord: Help us all to be better Christians by reaching out as Isaiah the prophet did, and by sharing God’s Word and the promise of His return, so we can all be ready when He comes.

Lois Weil Kaufman